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Green Gully Track 1


Getting there is half the fun!
Our destination is a long drive from Wagga Wagga, an overnight stay in Tamworth and then a three hour trip into the start of the Green Gully Track (GGT) over an hour of that on a winding dirt road.
Walcha was a very interesting little lunch time stop over with a walk around the local out door art gallery – we are told that farmers around the district created some of the sculptures – some more unusual than others but all interesting.

Over all it has been a great trip, a little shopping, coffee, a little sight seeing and meeting a new fellow hiker. Ebor Falls was a highlight with an incredible canyon – very dramatic with its columned basalt rock formations. Perhaps with the lack of water tumbling over the falls made its focus more intense but I would like to come back and see it flowing one day.

Cedar Creek Cottage is a welcome sight after the dirt road and I admit to being a little queasy but after getting beds ready so we can relax around the fire and look out over the glorious valley spread out before us I am feeling much better.
Our peace is disturbed when 3 women arrive insisting that they are booked in, we check our paperwork and they check theirs. Its a bit of a stand off for a while as they set up over at the lodge. They have it wrong but are still insisting that they can’t possibly walk a day later. The Green Gully Track has been designed so you walk with your own group but we still try to come up with solutions with one of our group offering the ultimate sacrifice of taking her mattress so she can sleep on the floor. Thankfully an hour later we get the all clear to keep to our program, the others will stay behind another day and we will have our walk to ourselves. Very, very happy!

Great Ocean Road


After completing the Great Ocean Walk Shane and I decide to hang around an extra day to take in the other ‘great’ sights. I think I could come here every year and still be in awe of the scenery, the rugged and beautiful cliffs, the unpredictable powerful Southern Ocean and all the shipwreck stories make this a very special place indeed.
Starting with Loch Ard Gorge and the story of Tom and Eva, who were the only survivors of the ship carrying 54 people that ended up sinking in 1878. Tom, our hero of the story, jumps overboard and swims to shore. He arrives safely and then upon hearing the cries of Eva he swims back out to save her. Eva was unconscious by the time they were both safely back to the shore but some brandy that was washed up was administered to revive her. Tom then climbs to the top of the gorge to get help from the local pastoralists. After that Tom and Eva became quite famous with those at the time hoping the couple would marry – not to be – Eva returned to England and married an aristocrat and Tom, well he was just a sailor and went back to the sea.

It is time to move on but there is plenty to see as we wind our way back to Princetown.

The Great Ocean Walk – Day 7

Wreck Beach to Princetown and on to the 12 Apostles, 18k, easy to moderate, some clouds, sunny and warm.

Our last day on the track – always a mix of excitement, achievement and sadness. Today we are being dropped off at Wreck Beach with cars also being shuffled to the 12 Apostles to make things so much easier at the end of the day.
I am looking forward to Wreck Beach despite the 366 steps down – hopefully I have the right tide charts and we don’t have to make a mad dash back up them.

366 steps to the beach

We all make it to the bottom and we see the tide is well out exposing flat rocky seashore platforms covered in green algae – that didn’t sound like a great description but the bright green against the dark rocks is something very different to what we have seen. The rock pools are fascinating like looking into a little seperate world of wonder filled with delicate pink ruffled seaweed, molluscs, shells, colourful rocks, fish darting, star fish and sea snails.

Then of course what this beach is famous for is the wrecks with the anchors of the Marie Gabrielle – all crew survived and the Fiji – a ship with stories of heroism, sacrifice and few survivors – well worth reading about. The anchors are a poignant reminder of all those who lost their lives at sea along this treacherous coast.

We have been happy wandering at a slow and steady pace enjoying the rock pools but the tide has turned and we still have our rock scrambling to get through. A couple of people are a bit nervous but this just takes me back to my childhood when I explored the areas where lived on the coast so I was loving every bit. We helped with those people who were less enthusiastic, one in particular trembling with fright but in the end we did agree it really wasn’t too difficult and all got through safely.

The rest of the walk back to Princeton is through sand dunes and along cliffs so again it is wonderful to have full uninterrupted views of the sea with the waves still drawing me in to watch their progress to the shore.

The Devils Kitchen

There is little shade as we finally see the Gellibrand River where it mets the sea, it looks peaceful and inviting from the headland.

The Gellibrand River meets the sea

Our lunch destination is our campsite and it is a pleasant place to have lunch under the trees watching the little Surperb Fairy Wrens hop about around us hoping for some crumbs. One of the walkers, who was ahead of me, tells us how she has had a fall but thankfully apart from some bruising she will be ok and is keen to finish the walk.
It will be warm walking this afternoon with no shady Casuarina trees to enjoy as we coaster up and down the exposed sand dunes following the twisting turning track onto headlands craning to see out first glimpse of the Apostles. At last we are up and over yet another headland and see their dark imposing outline against the brilliant blue of the sea and it quite a thrill to almost be at the end of the track. The first sighting is deceiving though and there are still many more sand dunes, twisting and turning to navigate before we reach the big platform with all revealed before us – Gibson Steps, the 12 Apostles and we can see the car park is buzzing with tourists so not long now.

At last the 12 Apostles in sight

I am last over the finish line along side our almost 80 year old walker and we are jubilant at the completion of the walk. We all walk through to see the Apostles and of course a photo opportunity awaits.

End of the walk a wonderful feeling

Tonight we dine out at the local pub and talk about the best moments we had on the walk – so many really but definitely walking barefoot along Joanna Beach is up there. Dinner is so good, Shane and I enjoy slow cooked lamb shanks – delicious, really great pub grub!

The Great Ocean Walk – Day 6

Ryan’s Den Track to Wreck Beach, 12k, moderate to hard, partly cloudy, warm and humid.

This morning the sky is coloured rich reds, and purples – red sky in the morning is a shepherds warning – perhaps for hikers too.
We take one car down to Wreck Bay while the others head to the Ryan’s den Track. The parking is very cramped here and it is a great suggestion to back the cars in for a quick getaway – little did I know how important this would be at the end of the day.

Ryan’s Den Track

We are all curious as to where this track will lead us. It is easy to follow and well defined so when we pop out on the great ocean walk it is no real surprise to see a sign pointing the way we came to the great ocean road 1k. Sometimes we just don’t trust that little voice inside but we have not really missed much of the track and there is plenty before us so without too many ‘if only’s’ we head off all the better for the experience.

We are now into the hard section of the track and up and down and up we go. It’s rugged and beautiful with plenty to keep us happily walking – that and if we stop in any of the wetter areas the leaches will attack. The track continues to zig zag down one side of a hill and back up the other side – it’s nice to be able to wave to the front runners of the group as they make there way on the opposite side to me.
It is almost morning tea time and we are in for a real treat – Ryan’s Den Campsite is worth the walk in and we go further along to the headland – WOW! I now understand why people want to do the walk in camping. The view down the coastline is wonderful and we sit enjoying the treat while eating treats!

View from Ryan’s Den

Eventually, with some more zig zagging, ups and downs we find ourselves in a spot looking back to where we sat which is pretty special too. The story of Ryan’s Den is quite amazing – named after Dr Charles Ryan, who after being shipwrecked in the 1900s managed to haul himself up the beach with a broken leg . He made it over the steep ridge and down to the nearby Gellibrand River, where he eventually found help. I have two sound legs and a path to follow so it really does bring it home what Dr Ryan did.

Ryan’s Den, where we had morning tea is the 2nd ridge over and we sat just under the pointy bit.

It is also at this look-out that one of the walkers goes a little too far out on the precipice for my liking – definitely time for me to push on. I don’t think the spot we find for lunch will come any where close to Ryan’s Den.

The rock that looks a little like a ship

A place is found with a nice grassy ledge for us to all sit on but it seems to be quite some time before the tail Enders appear and there is something wrong. One of the crew has become ill and is struggling to stop vomiting. I send all the others on telling them to stop at Moonlight Headland and I’d know what we would do. There is an access road, Parkers Road, so we could get the car there very easily. Two walkers are going accompany our less fortunate one and then three others will head as fast as they can to the car parked at Wreck Bay. Our youngest walker the car owner and I head off – it’s a ripping pace through mainly easy stretches of coastal forest. I am amazed that I did 1k in 12 and half minutes – well all three of us did it actually – pretty fantastic. We make great time and thankfully our patient has almost fully recovered. She had managed to complete the most arduous part of the day very much under the weather so it’s well done.
I pick up the others who walked through normally and little splatters of rain start to fall – that red sky this morning rings true – although we really did only have the briefest of showers.

The Great Ocean Walk – Day 5

Johanna beach to Ryan’s Den Track and out to the Great Ocean Road, 15k, moderate to hard, very warm and sunny.

Time to pack up again and head to Princetown. Our tents are very wet so we quickly get them up and off we go – the clock is ticking and with a difficult walk ahead of us we need to get started.
We have been dropped off this morning and I realise I have left my camera and sunglasses back at camp – kicking myself, quite hard I might say – but I do have my phone so I will make do with that. I was very happy to get a text from my friend to say the camera, which I had left on the table near our camp, has been safely put away.
Today’s walk is expected to be challenging and we almost immediately start heading up and up and up. Our walk in the morning is taking us through beautiful farmlands of rolling hills, interesting houses built specifically to make the most of the scenery and, with such blue skies against the beautiful green with views over the Southern Ocean, I am almost envious of the people who get to live here. (I say almost as I know the winds that hit this region can be extreme and I’m very happy not to have anything but a gentle breeze today.)

There are obviously some interesting characters that live along here and I suppose having people by the thousands traipsing passed your front door could mean that you shun or embrace it. As we come up to the top of a ridge we come across and interesting little place with nice cool water to drink, free apples and marmalade for sale – obviously the one of the people who are embracing it – thank you!

We stop for morning tea and one my fellow walkers is taking extra photos for me – that’s so nice and why I love walking with these people.
A climb over a gate signals the beginning of a very steep decent to Melanesia Beach and we meet some backpackers who are walking into campsites, a very lively pair and we have a few laughs about spoiling their peace and quiet.
There are some unusual rock formations along the cliffs running down to the beach, like someone has randomly come along a stuck stones in on a concrete wall. One of these cliffs provides some very welcome shade to sit beneath and watch the waves roll onto the beach whilst enjoying lunch – it really doesn’t get much better than this!

Then of course it is an afternoon of more ups than downs, beautiful coastline views, cliffs and a the ever changing ocean beside us.

My scouts are having some trouble locating the Ryan’s Den Track as it is not clear how far we have come and where in wriggly lines we are on the map, plus are now battling the ferocious leaches – well persistent leaches. We all decide we will take a chance on a track leading off to the right even though it doesn’t quite feel right – with the leaches waving about in the grass we are pretty keen to follow anything. After some time we reach a substantial dirt track and after more very steep ascents reach a farm road were we find our way out to the Great Ocean Road – just a couple of kilometres short of the place we were supposed to come out – ah well we will find out tomorrow where we should have left the track.

For now we are very happy to be heading back to camp.

The Great Ocean Walk – Day 4

Johanna Beach to Aires River, 14ks, moderate, beautifully sunny.

We are doing this part of the track backwards and start at Johanna beach so that we can do this section at low tide. I am so happy as I get to walk barefoot on the sand. My favourite day so far, peering into rock pools, feeling the sand squeezing between my toes, having the waves splash around my feet, lapping at my legs frothy and cool. It’s a whole 2 kilometres of this fun and frivolity but I do end up with a wet bum posing for photos – still my enthusiasm remains undampened and I am certainly, well and truly in my happy place.

Cleaning our feet properly is so important to avoid chaffing and extremely time consuming but eventually we head up and up back above Johanna Beach to walk along the cliff tops.
Another really stunning section through kangaroo tail, coastal forest and some bright red Common Heath, the floral emblem of Victoria plus some fabulous views of the coastline fills in the rest of our morning.
The walk is now relatively easy and each corner presents yet another picture perfect view – I could never get tired of this.

We reach Aires River and they are clearing the sand from the entrance of the estuary which will help alleviate the flooding, albeit a little too late for us, by allowing the water to flow into the sea.
I sneak off for another swim, or water torture, and then it’s time for a relaxing afternoon.
It’s around then the entertainment arrives as the cutest koala is spotted sitting on the grass before making his/her way to a nearby tree. This tree is an obvious favourite as there is little left of leaves on it but still this koala decides to ravage it some more, unperturbed by us closely watching on. I, and some others, are completely mesmerised by this enchanting little cutie, giggling as it perches itself on the smallest branch, wondering if it will even hold up under the weight as it gently bounces up and down while the munching continues unabated.

I can’t think of a better way to spend a day, positively perfect in every way!

The Great Ocean Walk – Day 3

GOW – Cape Otway to Aires River, 10k easy to moderate, Sunny

It’s time to leave Marengo so everything is packed up for our move to Aires River West campsite and its a good thing I’m not in the lead as we would have definitely missed the turn-off. I’m so happy driving into the campsite as it looks beautiful. The river is full, the grass in green and although there are people camped here there is plenty of room. Then……comes our first real hiccup of the trip – the river is really full and has, in fact, flooded our campsites.

Our flooded campsite

A very helpful camper shows us how to drive to the sites and even offers his spare, drier site but with the chance that the river may rise even further during the night I decide I need to phone the parks office. They are extremely helpful and we move our gear to Aires River East which is dry with no chance of us getting stuck or wet! It doesn’t take us long to set up tents and we can implement our clever walking plan for the day. We are splitting into two groups one walking from Cape Otway and one walking to Cape Otway. This way only one car has to make the dreaded journey into the Cape – there are currently road works that cause long delays in getting through.
The familiar scrubby coastal bush path sets us on our way and leads the way to rolling sand dunes. The Cape Otway cemetery is a somber ode to the past with some young children’s graves reminding us of the very difficult lives the pioneers had as do the graves of the shipwreck casualties. When we reach the turn off to the Rainbow Falls beach walk we go down to see if it might be possible to reach the falls. The tide is almost at its peak and so we need to be sensible and not make the 3k extra trip and risk getting caught by the sea.

The tide a little high to get into Rainbow Falls

We are also looking out for the other group walking towards us in the hope we will catch up for lunch. I have it in my head that we need to give them keys to the car left at Cape Otway and begin trying to contact them by phone. It’s not until I mention it to the owner of the car that she explains she has left a spare key with a member from the other group – big sigh of relief. We make our way back to the track junction and then the other group starts to wander in – perfect timing.
I was a bit disappointed about not seeing the falls but just thought I’d have to come back some day – always leave something for the next time but then I get talking with the people that did walk in and they could not really see anything remotely like the description and were not sure what all the fuss was about.
We continue on our way and I particularly enjoy watching the continuous sets of waves coming in, curling over, forming perfect tubes with the wind whipping up a spray on the peak, before exploding into a mass of foaming white. I could watch this all day and for the most part I do.

Shane is also getting very brave and going right out to the edge in places – enough to make me a bit nervous. It’s amazing how a couple of poles in your hand can make a difference to your confidence.

On the edge

Soon we can see the Aire River inlet and just how far the water has to rise to get over the sand bar – our old camp site would make a nice swimming hole by then. The day has warmed up but the track turns away from the exposed coast and we are back amongst the scrubby little bush trees again providing a cool canopy for the walk down to the river. The last section is a very sandy downhill slope and I’m thinking that the group walking up this would have found it a bit hard going – feeling a little guilty that I chose this way but then they do get ice cream at the end of their walk today so no hard feelings.

Back at camp I’m thinking of a swim and one of the ladies in the camping area next to us is too – none of my lot would go. The water is cold, freezing but we get in and it is not long before our legs are used to it – or numb – so in I go. We get back and someone says I didn’t hear any screaming and then I remembered why. When I went in the coldness of the water made me completely breathless so I really couldn’t scream, talk and was just sucking in air very quickly.
We have a very friendly wallaby hanging around the camp a visit from a possum and some cute little blue wrens hopping about. The sounds of the sea are much subdued by the sand dunes and distance – a great night for sleeping.

Our campsite at Aires River East